March 19th

I am setting out to make my way in the world apart from my father, who is warring against the Neveri Nomads in the south. It’s been a long journey up from the coast but I believe I’m on  my last ship for awhile. I’ve booked passage on a ship headed north, to Nordvorn. I am leaving the wars to the south to the old men and instead seeking glory in battle with the fae to the north. I am excited for the journey. Captain Einarsson is charging me nothing for my passage but a promise to defend the ship if it comes under attack, a proper fare for a warrior. Even better: none of the crew seems to have identified me as Sigurðsson. Perhaps I’ll be able to build a reputation in my own name.

 March 21st 

A few more warriors joined us today at Jarngardr. And now the crew knows. I suspect the Hrafnar (Georg) told them. I suspect Loki put him up to it. Thankfully the word hasn’t gotten out about mother. It helps that to hear father, or the skalds tell it, he’s seduced half the women of Nordlond, and half the women among the Aesir as well, so no one questions where one more bastard son came from.

March 23rd

We had a battle today. A longboat with 20 raiders attempted to board us. A few had bows, I recognized them to be the greatest threat to the bird-man and the elf I was going to leave behind me when I boarded the ship. So I threw my spear as the ship came alongside us. I skewered one of the bandits with the bows and then leapt aboard and drew my sword. My bold companions, Natalie, a Gullinálmur, and Chuff, a… Chuff has 3 cat heads. Anyway, my companions were of the same mind I was and we all boarded the ship. I can’t be too mad at the bird-man, one of the bandits managed to get behind me and he stabbed it in the eye. I was able to defend Chuff from one of the bandits engaging her by knocking his axe from his hand. Mostly I felt I could have done more, but Chuff and Natalie’s eagerness left me in a poor tactical position. I will have to demonstrate my leadership abilities so that we may all be more effective in the future.

 We won the day and claimed the bandit ship. I helped impress upon Captain Einarsson the importance of not cheating us out of our spoils while Georg negotiated with him. We are back underway toward Áinferill.

One more thing, a cause for some concern. When Georg was stabbing that bandit who’d gotten behind me, he mentioned something about my mother. Does he know?

This will be the last of the play reports for the first session. You can expect to see several, from different points of view, as the campaign progresses.

Setting the scene:

We started off On A Boat (knar, technically, a big ol fat cargo vessel with no on-deck buildings or fortifications) sailing down an extremely big river (half mile wide) to Aienferill. We were hired on by the knar captain (Einarsson) to protect it from being raided, there having been problems with raiding on this particular route.

Chuff was trying to fish off the deep-water side, and failed, because at least one of her heads kept trying to catch dragonflies and another liked the sparklies of the sun on the water. Natalie the boarfolk hung around with Chuff in hopes of getting a share of fish, should any be caught. Daingean the elfard is hanging out on the prow of the knarr, refusing to say he’s king of the world. Georg the ravenfolk is is playing card games with crew, and confusing everyone with an ever-changing series of “rituals” he apparently has to do before taking a seat, dealing new cards, eating, etc. Rollo the Himneskur (god-blooded) is sulking as far away from the crew as he can get because they won’t stop asking for his signature.

The captain sighted a longboat sailing upriver towards us at full sail, packed with heavily armed warriors (almost 20), and called us all together to do our dang jobs. The approaching raiders either didn’t have missile weapons or were total crap with them, I’m not sure which, but we weren’t threatened at range. We, on the other hand, are lethal at many ranges. Chuff was particularly proud of nailing one with a sling bullet before they threw out the grappling hooks and pulled up along our knar as a prelude to boarding.

As mentioned, we’re deadly at many ranges, but particularly at close range and I don’t think the raiders were expecting a “defensive” group about a quarter their size to start the fight by boarding them. There wasn’t really any room on their longboat to board them, to be fair, but we sorted that out by murdering raiders until we cleared out space, via melee and spell. Georg snuck up invisible and stabbed a raider right in the eye.

The bandits also helped us clear themselves a bit by slipping and sliding on Daingean’s grease spell, tripping over their own spears, and generally doing a Laurel and Hardy bit, but with pointy things. Chuff shatters one bandits knee, and while she tries to avenge herself on Chuff from the deck, she only manages to throw her axe away in the process. George later claimed the axe was clearly a cursed sword. She follows this up by dropping her buckler too.

Axe Bandit cries out in frustration and curses the gods
Daingeann: Oh, I would NOT have cursed the gods. Sometimes they listen.
GM: clearly weren’t listening to broken leg self disarming bandit up till now
Chuff: Oh, they might have been listening. And laughing.
Daingeann: “Make him whiff again!” “Father, haven’t you tired of this?” “Never, Loki. Never. Make him whiff again.”

Finally Chuff spots a raider who managed to set one foot on the knar and completely loses her composure. Screaming a nightmare chorus of “MY ship! Mine mine mine!” (pees on the ship, like any cat would) “MINE!” she brings her Morningstar crashing down onto the offenders skull, for a critical hit doing 40 (!) cr and splattering his head.

After this the fight winds down rapidly, although Chuff does take a solid hit from an axe in the mess, and Georg finishes everything off by grabbing a bandit from behind and slitting his throat quite dramatically.

After the dust settles there’s almost immediately a bit of conflict over who owns the longship of the unfortunate raiders.

Rollo: Their ship is mine!
Chuff: “Just the little one! The big one is MINE! I peed on it!”
Chuff has exactly zero interest in actual ownership.
Georg Svangeirsson: “Chuff, you can’t have the big one, it was already peed on by the captain here.”
Georg Svangeirsson: “The little one’s ours, though.”

Captain Einarsson, on the other hand, clearly feels he has a financial stake in it as well, like any good merchant. He points out that the raiding longboat is a piece of crap Pinto of a longboat, which might be why they were taking such risks to get another vessel. And we aren’t exactly sailors. Negotiations follow hotly, as Rollo and Georg go back and forth with Einarsson over towing the longboat to Aienferril (and lending us enough crew to keep it afloat while we do so), and settle on paying Einarsson 1/6th of whatever we sell the thing for, but he gives up any claim to the raiders equipment. Einarsson also will be helping us get the best deal possible, as of course he has a vested interest now.

One of the players in KN’s just-started Nordlond campaign –  Forumite, Discordian and infrequent guest poster Kalzazz – wanted to play a character from “Totally Not England.” As it turns out, such a place exists. It is called Brionnu, just south of Nordlond, along the eastern coast. There’s another realm/raiding target called Arnulf as well. “Totally Not England” is strongly Celtic in nature. It’s organized in what are best called Parrishes, with a local priest or druid (lots of druids) communing with nature and the gods, and acting as chief and first citizen. The parrishes are not terribly large, which means raiding one won’t get you in trouble with an entire country…just maybe a few thousand folks.

Hey, Vikings gotta Viking.

In any case here’s the first session, which I reported in A Pair of Wizards, as told from his point of view.

We were starting level, we were on a boat, then we fought bandits and crushed them.

Starting on a boat was a nice touch reminding me of Shining Force CD, and bandits of course are the popular starting foes of untold Fire Emblem games (Fire Emblem Gaiden even gives you Bandits on a Boat!).  I was really hopeful we would get to fight Dire Conches though like in Shining Force, some author needs to make those happen.

The fight . . . well.  It was definitely a low level GURPS fight.  Natalie started off auspiciously with a good axe throw, then not so well with a shield rush, so she didn’t get to use her cool boarfolk power.  She fortunately did not actually fall off the boat (though I would have felt that pretty appropriate!).  

I had promised to get hurt so healing could happen, and I was successful on that end.

The topic of contention is to sell the boat or keep it, with the delta about 3.5k either way, so that isn’t enough for any cool magic items I have no strong feelings on the matter.

I did start Natalie with a katana (sorry, a Brionese Sicklesword, the whole D&D idea of druids can use scimitars since are sickle shaped, well, Brionu is Celtic so Druid Land so I’m sure they like katanas!) because reach 2 cutting seems fabulous and they may be hard to get later.   So no quick release backpack or armor.   Getting armor and probably hobnails are in my future.

I’m probably going to spend the 3 CP I just got on Lifting ST, so my armor doesn’t send me careening wildly into the depths of encumbrance.   Encumbrance is very very real even for ST 19 barbarians.

I usually think of low level to high level characters in terms of low level characters are those whose biggest challenge is overcoming their own incompetence that gradually morph into being challenged by the coolness of the opposition.   We really weren’t challenged this session, but it still felt pretty low level.  I haven’t played a barbarian before but I think it is a pretty slow burn template unlike knights, swashes or wizards who can really roll from the get go, so I am hoping this campaign goes long enough to be being burning brightly.   The fact we had 30 seconds before the enemy arrived and the enemy did not simply die in a hail of ranged attacks in 5 of those 30 seconds also felt pretty low end, only Chuff (with a sling) and the Elfard Wizard (whose name I dare not try to spell, whats up with Elf Wizards with challenging names?  Seep in DFW has a Special Character in her name!) had the only ranged attacks that actually had ammo.   

The burning question now is in the realm of the Encumbrance and Liquidity constrained, is it better to get overall wimpy armor, or better to have less wimpy armor but more gaps in coverage?

And on the less wimpy but gaps in coverage plan, what do you armor?   Torso (or even front torso) since it is easiest to hit, or hands, feet and skull since weakest points?

An enemy All Out Attack next to me, and of course, my instinct was ‘Telegraphic to the Skull!’, but no Telegraphic in DFRPG.  That is huge.   That really was my crowning moment of feeling like a low level no account starting character scrub . . . . when an Enemy All Out Attack and it had zero input on my action next round, because not enough skill to target the skull, and neck at 11 or less . . . . so I just threw the same generic body blow I would have anyway.

This brought up the other burning question – what option makes the biggest change?  Telegraphic, Committed/Defensive, Evaluate?  (thats a trick question, I am sure it is not Evaluate).   Telegraphic is the Universal Response to All Out Attacks when it exists . . . without it they may be more worth doing, at least against the skill constrained.   What option changes the game the most?  I would be interested to see that discusssed.

Who knows!  Looking forward to next session!  And I really liked the cool map and boats.

Special thanks to Bruno for being general awesome and the reason I wanted to play DFRPG to begin with (and making a fabulous character art for me), Zul for running this (and the super awesome DOA that preceded it), and DHC to creating Nordlond.